7 Reasons That This is the Worst Survey of All Time
Readers of 7 Reasons, I’m breathless with excitement. I’ve discovered something amazing. While reading this fine article to research something else, I found, in four short paragraphs in the middle, an account of an astonishingly inept survey.
The survey was conducted in the 1930s by the Mass Observation organisation and set out to quantify how many people were having sex on Blackpool beach during the month of August. They conducted their research – in a rather hapless manner – by hanging about on the beach at night looking for people having sex. During the research they managed to spectacularly and hilariously cock up their own figures. Here are seven reasons that it’s the worst survey of all time.
1. The Premise. You can call me suspicious (I won’t answer to it though) but isn’t the premise a bit fishy? I smell a rat; which is a rodent that smells of fish. It’s like someone at the Mass Observation unit suddenly said – possibly during a meeting at a pub – “I’ve got a great idea chaps, let’s all go to Blackpool and observe people having sex on the beach.” And everyone drunkenly agreed to it as a terrific idea and an utterly laudable use of their time and resources. What no one seems to have said is “But wait. Isn’t that dogging?” Because that’s what watching people having sex in a public place is. This makes their observation lack credibility. This makes it look less like a serious study and more like an excursion for perverts.
2. The Results. The results are also a little suspicious. During their study into how many people were having sex on the beach during August in Blackpool, they recorded a mere four couples having sex on the beach. Now, perhaps times have changed and things are a little more liberal in Blackpool these days but there are bus stops in Blackpool where more people are having sex than that in the middle of the afternoon. And on the beach at any given time, there are usually at least nine people attempting to have sex with a donkey. The results seem not to accurately reflect the environment that was being surveyed.
3. The Personnel. The credibility of this survey was further undermined because – and this makes it officially one of my favourite surveys ever – one of the people that the Mass Observation researchers observed having sex on the beach was another Mass Observation researcher. This brilliant incident of the hunter becoming the hunted; the ogler becoming the ogled and the peeper becoming the peepee has catapulted what was already the second least credible survey of all time (after my important research into how much tiramisu you can fit into a 6’2” man with an M in his name in a Yorkshire kitchen in December*) into first place in a race of its own.
4. The Results Are Skewed. The discovery of the researcher having sex means that, according to the Mass Observation survey, 12.5% of all people having sex on Blackpool beach during the month of August are Mass Observation researchers. Now I don’t wish to appear cynical, but if I was say…let me see…in charge of a rather unglamorous unit that generated statistics on everyday life and I was having a recruitment drive to swell the ranks of nerds that I needed to count things, what better way to glamourise it? Move over rock stars (whatever they are); move over Errol Flynn and Clark Gable; Mass Observation researchers are unabashed rampant sex beasts and brazen cocksmen and not the stammering bespectacled tweed-wearers that you previously supposed them to be. If you want to have relations with ladies in hats, join the Mass Observation unit and become a statistician. I’d imagine that brilliantined brown shoe wearers would be queuing round the block to join. On bicycles, probably.
5. The Results Are Confusing. But Wait! What if he was having sex alone? After all, if he’s the voyeuristic chap that suggested going to Blackpool in the first place, that’s entirely probable. That would make him 14% of all people having sex on Blackpool beach during the month of August! That would really be something to boast about. But that raises further questions. If you’re having sex alone while watching someone else are you having sex alone? Do you have to count the other person or people? What if he has some sort of weird fetish and is having sex alone while watching a tram or looking at a picture of Stanley Baldwin? Would that mean that former Conservative Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin was 12.5% of all people having sex on Blackpool beach in August? Should you count all of the passengers on the tram? The computations are mind-boggling.
6. It Might Be Illegal. By and large, Mass Observation researchers were amateur volunteers (and deviants apparently), but the Mass Observation organisation accepted donations and funds from book advances, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the researchers were being paid to do this and it’s highly likely that they were receiving money for expenses. This raises another question. What do you call someone that gets paid when having sex? That’s right, a prostitute. So, not only has this researcher royally messed up the statistics (and given me a headache) he’s committed an act of prostitution while he was working at the beach.
7. It Gets Worse. The Mass Observation organisation have – in the act of giving money to a prostitute – become a kerb crawler. That’s the sort of label that makes the organisation that have produced the least credible survey of all time look – incredibly – less credible than they already seemed (which was not at all). This survey looks like an excuse for voyeurism, depicts Blackpool in unbelievable terms, skews its own findings by engaging in a sexual act on a beach, raises statistical questions that caused me to consider sex with a tram and the organisation that made it might have sullied their reputation by giving money to a hooker. If there has been a less credible survey ever made I’d love to see it.
*The survey’s finding: Bloody loads.